Taylor Goldsmith's contemplations of eternity may be a bit precocious for someone in his early 20s, but, then again, he and his similarly youthful bandmates in Dawes suggest they have old souls on their debut album, North Hills. Or at least souls whose vintage musical tastes place them specifically in the hills and canyons around Los Angeles in the late '60s.
The quartet evolved from the alt-pop teenage band Simon Dawes, with Goldsmith joined by his drummer brother Griffin (the sons of former Tower of Power singer Lenny Goldsmith), S.D. bassist Wylie Gelber, and current pianist Alex Casnoff, and much of North Hills has that hazy, ambling, Laurel Canyon groove associated with folks like Jackson Browne and Crosby, Stills & Nash, with Goldsmith essentially cloaking himself in that sun-dappled vibe as he tries to make sense of the world with lines like "anyone that's making anything new only breaks something else." You can pick out influences all over Hills: vocal harmonies that suggest CS&N there, Workingman's Dead there; guitar figures reminiscent of Stephen Stills and Neil Young; Creedence, The Band, Gram Parsons. While evoking a certain time and place, Dawes doesn't feel derivative, instead grafting something new onto old roots.
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Opening will be a pair of bands with their own takes on Americana roots. Wisconsin-based Cory Chisel juggles folkie introspection and edgy rock with his Wandering Sons on last fall's Death Won't Send a Letter. There's a stronger country-rock thread on Hustler's Son, the solo debut of Jason Boesel, stepping up as a singer and guitarist after years behind the drum kit for the likes of Rilo Kiley and Bright Eyes.